Report: Theo Epstein “actively looking” to hire GM in order to become Cubs’ president

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Many were surprised when SI’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Cubs were interested in hiring Padres general manager Jed Hoyer. Now it makes a lot of sense.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Theo Epstein is “actively looking” to hire a general manager, a move that would enable him to become the Cubs’ president of baseball operations.

It’s unclear whether Hoyer would want to join Epstein in Chicago or whether San Diego would grant him permission to leave. Hoyer, who worked with the Red Sox for eight years before being hired as Padres GM in October of 2009, is under contract through 2013 with a club option for 2014. The Cubs are still negotiating compensation with the Red Sox for Epstein, but it’s possible they could find themselves in another compensation situation with San Diego.

One interesting twist is that the Padres have a potential in-house replacement for Hoyer in the form of Josh Byrnes. He served as vice president of baseball operations this season and formerly worked as Diamondbacks GM under Jeff Moorad, who is now the majority owner of the Padres.

Of course, Byrnes has also been mentioned as a possible assistant to Epstein in Chicago, so this could go any number of directions in the coming days.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.